Report on Division/Church Corridor Public Meeting

I just returned from tonight’s public meeting regarding the Division/Church Corridor (Business Route 51) Project. About 100 people were present to hear a short presentation and to ask questions of the project staff.

Tonight’s public meeting focused on the city of Stevens Point’s motivations for rebuilding Division/Church from the southern city limits to I-39. The motivations outlined included safety (high crash rates), pavement deterioration, geometries (lane width issues), and bicycle and foot traffic accommodations.

Nothing about possible alternatives to the current road alignment was presented. The project is currently focused on identifying the corridor needs (as dictated by the motivations listed above) and soliciting public opinion on current problems and desired new alignments and infrastructure.

Here are a few highlights from the presentation:

  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 565 reported crashes on the Division/Church corridor in Stevens Point, of which 31 involved someone on a bicycle and 11 involved someone on foot. The 565 crashes is almost double the state average over that time for similar roadways.
  • 70% of the corridor has substandard lane widths, and at least one 12-foot wide lane is needed on any truck route.
  • State and federal laws require bikeways and sidewalks to be included on roadway projects funded with state or federal transportation funds. (Federal funds are being used for at least a portion of the project.)
  • The scope of this project is not only for traffic along the Division/Church corridor, but for crossings as well. Project staff said that reconstruction may include side streets if that is necessary meet project needs (such as improving safety) at that intersection.

An outline of the project schedule was presented. Public comments will be solicited for the next month or so (see below for more on that). The next public meeting will take place sometime in the spring. Later in the year, there will be design and evaluation of alternatives for the project. The selection of a preferred alternative is planned for 2014. Additional public meetings will be scheduled throughout this process. Construction may begin in 2016, possibly later.

Although construction is years away, the study of what to build is happening now. It is critical to express opinions now about this project while the alternatives are being developed. Once a preferred alternative is selected, it will be very difficult to enact changes to the proposed alignments.

So what can Poky Pedalers do to influence this project? The best action is to identify problems you see with the current corridor, as well as any infrastructure you want to see in the reconstruction. Once you’ve created that list, send it to the project staff (addresses below).

Are you OK with a 5-foot bike lane? Wider? A buffered bike lane (say, with a 2-foot wide painted no-travel zone between motor vehicles and bicycles)? A separated bike lane (with some sort of concrete barrier between motor vehicles and bicycles)?

Are there particular areas, like between Fourth Ave and Northpoint Dr, that need better bicycle infrastructure than other portions of the corridor? Are there specific intersections where crossing the corridor feels unsafe?

E-mail or US Mail your list to project staff as soon as you can, but no later than February 28. If you want to e-mail your comments, send to both of the following:

  • Bruce Gerland, Consultant Project Manager, AECOM:
  • Scott Schatschneier, Director of Public Works, City of Stevens Point:

If you send through the US Mail, send to:

Bruce Gerland, PE
200 Indiana Avenue
Stevens Point, WI 54481

Once you’ve sent your list, encourage others you know to send theirs. Then attend the spring 2013 public meeting, where I suspect the project staff will share what was learned from public comments. That meeting will be another opportunity to influence the process. Once they set a date, I’ll write up a PPSP blog post with that info.

I am hoping that the project staff hears loud and clear what Poky Pedalers want to see built on the Division/Church corridor.

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